The Torch Gets Passed at Spring Lakes Golf Club
Frost family relinquishes control of the 54 hole facility after 40 years
Spring Lakes Golf Club had been under the ownership of Mac and Beth Frost since the couple founded it in 1977.
Bruce Stapley Photo
Bob Lean, the new owner of Spring Lakes Golf Club, is committed to providing an affordable private golf club experience.
Photo courtesy Spring Lakes Golf Club
By Bruce Stapley, Stouffville Free Press
Spring Lakes Golf Club is sporting a new, yet familiar look this season.
The West End Stouffville golf property is under new ownership, having being purchased by a two man partnership including the club’s former pro, Bob Lean.
The 54 hole facility, which Mac and Beth Frost grew into Canada’s largest private golf club after founding it in 1977, had remained under the Frosts’ control except for a three year period beginning in 1988 when a Swiss based company purchased it for $40 million, only to default on their payment, handing it back to the original owners.
Mac Frost died in 2004, and was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame shortly afterwards. Rather than entertain any of the many offers to purchase the club, Beth took it over and continued on until last year when the feisty octogenarian finally decided it was time to retire. The club was sold to Mr. Lean and a silent partner.
‘Bobby’ as Mr. Lean likes to refer to himself, had become a fixture at the club located at the corner of Stouffville Road and Hwy. 48. After a four year stint as head pro at the prestigious Glen Abbey Golf Course, he had gone on to occupy the same role at Spring Lakes for 24 years.
So while the club certainly had the Frost name emblazoned all over it, Mr. Lean wasn’t exactly a stranger to its ways. “I’ve done it all since starting at Spring Lakes,” he said. “I’ve experienced every aspect of the operation at some time or other, like when Mac was sick. I was much more than the golf pro.”
Mr. Lean feels his familiarity with the overall running of the club has enabled the transition to be a smooth one. “The members know who I am, they want to be able to approach the club’s management with their concerns. They know I’m approachable.”
Mr. Lean is committed to pursuing the Frosts’ goal of providing a private golf club experience that is affordable. “We have three championship courses and the members can come and play at any time during the week with no long wait.” To back up his claim he points out that the club’s 1250 members played 30,000 rounds last year compared to 60,000 rounds back in the late 1990s.
There will also be an emphasis on showcasing the region’s top junior golfers, with three or four junior tournaments to be scheduled this season. “We would like to see the juniors come to Spring Lakes, we haven’t encouraged that in recent years.” Family play will also be emphasized. “There are no age restrictions in golf. Everyone is equal when they carry a handicap.”
He points to Golf Canada’s admission that the overall number of rounds being played in Canada has dropped in recent years as further proof of the need to make the private golf club experience affordable. “In the past there were not a lot of affordable private clubs, so were trying to address that.”
When it comes to drawing golfers to Spring Lakes, Mr. Lean feels the facility has some natural advantages. With the property adjoining a 200 acre farm and enhanced by the presence of an abundance of trees, wild flowers, exotic birds and water, he’s convinced of its appeal. “It’s a really nice walk.”